Motorists cannot speed when driving on a California bridge or tunnel. According to California Vehicle Code 22405 VC, a motorist is “speeding” if he drives at an unsafe speed.
The determination as to whether a motorist is driving at an unsafe speed is a question of fact based on all the circumstances of a case.
There are five important points to know about VC 22405.
- If there is a speed limit posted on a California bridge or tunnel, and a driver exceeds it, then that’s evidence that the motorist is driving at an unsafe speed.
- A driver that violates Vehicle Code 22405 must pay a fine of $238.00 to $490.00.
- A driver that speeds on a bridge or tunnel will also receive one point on his DMV driving record. A driver risks getting a negligent operator license suspension if he receives 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months.
- Legal defenses are available to drivers that want to challenge a ticket for violating 22405. It’s best, though, for drivers to consult with an attorney before raising one.
- Motorists cannot ignore California tickets for speeding on a bridge or tunnel. Ignorance of a ticket could result in the driver breaking another law, failure to appear, pursuant to California Vehicle Code 40508. This violation may be charged as a misdemeanor.
Our California personal injury attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. Vehicle Code 22405 – Motorist’s must drive at a safe speed when on a California bridge or tunnel
- 2. The penalties for speeding on a bridge or tunnel
- 3. Legal defenses if a driver violates Vehicle Code 22405 VC
- 4. Violations of Vehicle Code 22405 VC and traffic school
- 5. Violations of VC 22405 and criminal charges
- 6. Ignoring a ticket for violating Vehicle Code 22405
- 7. Speeding on a bridge or tunnel and how it effects a personal injury lawsuit
- 8. Laws related to Vehicle Code 22405 VC
1. Vehicle Code 22405 – Motorists must drive at a safe speed when on a California bridge or tunnel
California Vehicle Code 22405 (a) states:
No person shall drive a vehicle on any bridge, elevated structure, tube, or tunnel constituting a part of a highway, at a speed which is greater than the maximum speed which can be maintained with safety to such structure.1
This essentially means a motorist must drive at a safe speed when traveling over or through a structure.
The determination of what a “safe speed” is will depend on all the facts and circumstances in a given case.2
If there is a speed limit posted on a bridge or tunnel, then the posted speed limit is prima facie evidence of the maximum speed that a motorist can safely drive a vehicle.3
2. The penalties for speeding on a bridge or tunnel
A driver receives two penalties for violating Vehicle Code 22405 VC. These are:
- A fine; and,
- Points on the driver’s DMV driving record.
A motorist that drives at an unsafe speed on a California bridge or in a California tunnel will receive a ticket. The motorist will also have to pay a fine associated with the ticket.
The fine for violating VC 22405 is $238.00 if there is no speed limit posted.4
If a speed limit is posted, then the fine is:
- $238.00 for exceeding the speed limit by 1-15 miles per hour
- $367.00 for exceeding the speed limit by 16-25 miles per hour
- $490.00 for exceeding the speed limit by 25 miles per hour or more5
2.2. Points on the motorist’s driving record
Motorists that violate VC 22405 will receive one point on their driving record.6 This is not a good thing. Points on a person’s driving record are ultimately reported to the driver’s insurance carrier. The result is typically an increase in the driver’s insurance rates for several years.
A further problem occurs when points accumulate, or when a driver receives multiple points on his driving record over a certain period of time. If a driver in California receives a certain number of points within a 1-,2- or 3-year period, the DMV can declare that person a negligent driver. This means the DMV can either suspend or revoke a motorist’s driving privileges.
Please note, though, that either action will require a California DMV hearing.
3. Legal defenses if a driver violates Vehicle Code 22405 VC
A driver that receives a ticket for speeding on a bridge or tunnel can challenge the ticket by raising a legal defense. If this is done, though, it’s best for the driver to contact an attorney for help.
3.1. Common defenses for speeding on a bridge or tunnel
There are three common defenses to a violation of VC 22405. These are:
- The driver was in fact driving at a safe speed.
- An emergency required the driver to drive at an excessive speed.
- The officer made a mistake.
No matter the specific defense raised, a motorist must support it with credible evidence. The best evidence to use is:
- Witness statements;
- Photographs; and/or,
- Surveillance video.
3.2. Contact a lawyer for help
Drivers can represent themselves when challenging tickets for speeding on a bridge or tunnel. However, it’s best for drivers to contact an experienced California traffic ticket attorney for representation.
Hiring a lawyer for assistance is critical for three main reasons. These include:
- Prosecutors usually give better deals to drivers with lawyers.
- Defense attorneys understand how to get charge reductions and dismissals.
- A driver with an attorney does not have to go to court. The driver’s attorney can go on his behalf.
4. Violations of Vehicle Code 22405 VC and traffic school
Drivers that violate VC 22405 do not have to go to traffic school. But, they can volunteer to do so.
If a driver goes to traffic school, he must still pay his fine.7 However, the driver generally does not receive any points on his DMV driving record if he completes the school.8
In general, a driver can attend traffic school in California if he meets three requirements. These are:
- The driver has a valid driver’s license;
- The offense occurred while the driver was driving a noncommercial vehicle; and,
- The ticket is for an infraction that is a moving violation.
5. Violations of VC 22405 and criminal charges
No criminal charges are filed if a driver violates Vehicle Code 22405. This is because it’s not a crime in California if a driver speeds on a bridge or tunnel.
Violations of VC 22405 are infractions under California law. As such, a driver does not have to face jail time or other criminal penalties if ticketed for a VC 22405 violation.
6. Ignoring a ticket for violating Vehicle Code 22405
Drivers should not ignore – or even forget about – a ticket for violating VC 22405. Two things happen if this takes place. These are:
- The driver violates California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, for the failure to appear in court on a traffic citation; and,
- The driver faces the possibility of receiving penalties for violating VC 40508.
6.1. Violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC
Upon receiving a traffic ticket in California, a motorist must sign a written promise to appear in court at a certain time and place.
If the driver willfully fails to appear, he violates Vehicle Code 40508 VC.9 The driver willfully fails to appear when he is willingly a no-show. It’s not a defense if the driver did not intend to break the law.10
It also does not matter whether the offending driver is guilty or innocent of the underlying traffic citation.11 He violates Vehicle Code 40508 just by breaking a promise to:
- Appear in court,
- Appear to pay bail,
- Pay bail in installments,
- Pay a fine within the time authorized, or
- Comply with any condition of the court.12
6.2. Penalties for violating VC 40508
A violation of Vehicle Code 40508 VC is a misdemeanor. The penalties include:
- Up to six months in county jail, and/or
- A fine of up to $1,000.13
7. Speeding on a bridge or tunnel and how it affects a personal injury lawsuit?
A driver that speeds on a bridge or tunnel may cause an accident with another motorist. If the motorist is injured and later files a personal injury lawsuit against the driver, the driver may be found “negligent.”
California law defines “negligence” as the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others. When it comes to auto accidents, negligent drivers are considered at fault for the accident and they may have to pay for any damages caused.
Negligence “per se” is a type of legal theory. It presumes a driver is negligent if he violates a statute or ordinance
This means a driver would be negligent per se if he sped on a bridge or tunnel because that act is in violation of VC 22405.
Please note, however, that even if a driver is negligent per se, he may still be able to recover for any damages he incurs. This is because of California’s comparative fault laws.
8. Laws related to Vehicle Code 22405 VC
There are several laws related to VC 22405. These include:
- California’s other “speeding laws;”
- Designated vehicles speeding over 55 miles per hour; and,
- Metal tire vehicles speeding over 6 miles per hour.
8.1. California’s other “speeding laws”
“Speeding laws” refers to those California laws that impose penalties on motorists if they drive too fast. Some of these include:
- The basic speeding law – Vehicle Code 22350 VC
- Absolute speed limits
- “Prima facie” speed limits
- Driving over 70 miles per hour – Vehicle Code 22356 VC
- Speeding in a construction zone – Vehicle Code 22362 VC
- Excessive speed on a freeway – Vehicle Code 22354 VC
- Driving over 100 miles per hour – Vehicle Code 22348 (b)VC
Penalties for violating these speeding laws typically include a fine and points assessed on the motorist’s DMV driving record.
As to fines, the exact amount of a speeding ticket will depend on the speed at which the driver was driving. The amount will also include a base fine, fees, and penalty assessments.
If a driver exceeds the speed limit, but wasn’t driving more than 100 miles per hour, then the base fine of a ticket will be:
- $35 if faster than the limit by 1 to 15 miles per hour
- $70 if faster than the limit by 16 to 25 miles per hour
- $100 if faster than the limit by 26 miles per hour
If a driver speeds over 100 miles per hour, then the penalties are:
- A first offense results in a ticket with a base fine of $500 and up to 30 days of license suspension.
- A second offense within three years of time results in a ticket with a maximum base fine of $750 and a possible license suspension of six months.
- A third offense within five years of time results in a ticket with a maximum base fine of $1,000 and a possible license suspension of one year.14
8.2. Designated vehicles speeding over 55 miles per hour
According to California Vehicle Code 22406:
No person may drive any of the following vehicles on a highway at a speed in excess of 55 miles per hour:
(a) A motortruck or truck tractor having three or more axles or any motortruck or truck tractor drawing any other vehicle.
(b) A passenger vehicle or bus drawing any other vehicle.
(c) A school bus transporting any school pupil.
(d) A farm labor vehicle when transporting passengers.
(e) A vehicle transporting explosives.
(f) A trailer bus.15
A driver that violates VC 22406 must pay a fine. The amount of the fine is:
- $285.00 if driving 1 to 9 miles per hour over 55 miles per hour
- $490.00 if driving 10 miles per hour or more over 55 miles per hour
The violator will also receive one point on his DMV driving record.
8.3. Metal tire vehicles speeding over 6 miles per hour
California Vehicle Code 22410 states:
No person shall operate any vehicle equipped with any metal tire in contact with the surface of the highway at a speed in excess of six miles per hour.
A driver that violates VC 22410 receives two penalties. These include:
- A fine of $238.00
- One point assessed to his DMV driving record.
- California Vehicle Code 22405 (a) VC.
- Ham v. County of Los Angeles (1920), 46 Cal. App. 148.
- California Vehicle Code 22405 (b) VC.
- See DMV.org.
- See same.
- See same.
- See California Courts website.
- See same.
- California Vehicle Code 40508 VC.
- CALCRIM 2240, endnote 1: Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.
- See same.
- California Vehicle Code 40508 VC, endnote 1.
- California Penal Code 19 PC. Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.
- California Vehicle Code 22348 (b) VC and California Vehicle Code 13355 VC.
- California Vehicle Code 22406 VC.